Horticulturalist Guide: Autumn Colours in the Adelaide Hills

6 May, 2024

Horticulturalist insights reveal why the Adelaide Hills is a stunning location to visit in the autumn. People visit this picturesque corner of South Australia every year to witness nature’s breathtaking transformation as deciduous trees and plants paint the landscape with their lovely colours.

A highlight of the area is the spectacular Mount Lofty Botanic Garden where visitors can wander along the many, sometimes hilly, paths that sprawl across 97 hectares, immersing themselves in the spectacular colour, rich aromas, and amazing diversity of the garden. In autumn, the garden, a favourite spot for horticulturalists, opens at 8:30 am (often with a coffee cart onsite) and closes at 5 pm. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is closed on days when the fire danger rating is extreme or catastrophic.

Have you ever wondered why deciduous trees change colour during autumn? The reason, as any horticulturalist will tell you, is that as the days grow shorter and the temperatures start to dip, the trees prepare for winter by slowing down their food-making process. The green chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down, revealing the other pigments that were always there, just hidden behind the green mask. This leads to the spectacular display of colours we see during autumn.

Some of the stars of the Adelaide Hills autumn show are:

Deciduous Trees:

  • Japanese Maple: Loved by so many people. With delicate leaves resembling intricate lacework, Japanese Maples can display fiery reds, oranges, and yellows in autumn. They’re like watching a sunset captured in foliage.
  • Gingko Biloba: The Gingko tree turns into a golden masterpiece during autumn, with its fan-shaped leaves transitioning from green to a brilliant shade of yellow.
  • Liquidambar (Sweet Gum): What we affectionately call the “liquid amber.” Its star-shaped leaves burst into a fiery palette of red, orange, and purple during autumn, creating a captivating display. However, be mindful of its grand size, as it may not be suitable for smaller gardens.
  • Chinese Pistache: As autumn arrives, the Chinese Pistache dazzles with its vivid display of scarlet, crimson, and orange foliage. It’s like a burst of fireworks against the autumn sky.

Deciduous Shrubs:

  • Smoke Bush (Purple): Deep purple foliage provides drama with this large shrub. Misty pink clouds of tiny flowers emerge in late spring to early summer and gracefully waft like puffs of smoke above the dramatically rounded leaves. Spectacular crimson foliage follows in autumn.
  • Virginia Creeper: With its five-pointed leaves turning from green to shades of crimson and purple, the Virginia Creeper drapes itself over fences and walls, creating a stunning backdrop for autumn scenes.
  • Fothergilla: This charming shrub puts on a show-stopping display of vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds during autumn. Its compact size makes it a perfect choice for smaller gardens.
  • Witch Hazel: Donning shades of yellow, orange, and red, the Witch Hazel blooms with delicate spidery flowers while its leaves transform into a kaleidoscope of autumn hues.

Imagine you’re the mastermind behind these breathtaking autumn displays! Horticulturalists not only appreciate the beauty of nature but also help others transform their gardens into a slice of autumnal paradise. When advising clients, horticulturalists consider factors such as soil type, climate, and available space to select the perfect trees and plants for the garden. They guide others on plant placement and care, ensuring they get the most out of their autumn spectacle.

So, suppose you’re passionate about working outdoors, designing and constructing gardens, and revelling in the splendour of colourful autumn plants and trees. Why not embark on a journey of horticultural knowledge and skill? At ARO College, you can gain the expertise needed to become a skilled horticulturalist, advising clients and creating stunning autumn displays that will leave them and their visitors in awe.

ARO College, a leading horticulturalist institution, is headquartered in the historic town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, and our office attracts visitors for its display of flowers and edible plants year-round. Our training staff are knowledgeable about all types of environments and keen to share their knowledge.

If you would like to hear more about the training opportunities in horticulture available across South Australia, call us on 08 8339-1066 or check out these pages on our website, www.aro.edu.au.

AHC30722 – Certificate III in Horticulture – Aro College

AHC40422 – Certificate IV in Horticulture – Aro College

AHC50422 – Diploma of Horticulture Management – Aro College